88: Summarizing & Note Taking





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Summary of Research on Summarization:
  • Summarizing involves deleting, substituting, and keeping information
  • The skills above require deep analysis of material
  • Being aware of explicit structure of information helps with summarization (another reason to scaffold academic literacy)
Classroom Strategies:
  • Rules-Based Strategies:
    • MODEL how to apply rules such as:
      • delete trivial info
      • delete redundant info
      • replace lists with grouping words that summarize lists
      • select or create topic sentences
    • Use Think Aloud strategy while modeling rules
  • Summary Frames:
    • Series of questions that highlight critical elements for specific types of info
    • 6 Summary Frames – click here to see related questions
      • Narrative
      • Topic-Restriction-Illustration
      • Definition
      • Argumentation
      • Problem/Solution
      • Conversation
  • Reciprocal teaching
    • Student arranged in teacher groups
    • Leader of group facilitates discussion in which students take a lesson or reading and
      • summarize the lesson/reading
      • question – ask questions about the lesson/reading
      • clarify – try to answer questions
      • predict – predict what they will learn or do next
Research and Theory on Note Taking
  • Verbatim note taking is the least effective method – recording everything makes it too hard to synthesize info
  • Notes should be viewed as living documents
  • Notes should be used as study guides for tests
  • The more notes, the better
Classroom Strategies for Note Taking
  • Provide models – notes taken by teacher
  • Present students with a variety of note-taking formats such as
    • Informal outline
      • subordinate ideas are more indented than big ideas
    • Webbing
      • sizes of circles represent relative importance of ideas
      • lines show relationships between ideas
    • Combinations
      • Combines webbing and informal outline (like a double entry journal)
        • left column = informal outline
        • right column = webbing
      • Also includes a horizontal strip at the bottom for summary statements

Summarizing and note taking are powerful learning strategies.  Often these skills are un-scaffolded student activities and expectations.  Teaching students how to summarize and take notes can help them become more independent learners.

Preparation Steps
  • Pre-assess students’ note-taking and summarizing skills – identify their strengths and gaps
  • Identify which strategies (see above) could enhance students’ summarizing and note taking skills
  • Gather / prepare graphic organizers and visuals that go with selected strategies
Early Implementation Steps
  • Model (use think aloud and graphic organizers) summarizing and/or note-taking strategies
  • Give students opportunities to practice strategies
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Have students reflect on the impact different note-taking strategies are having on their learning
  • Let students use their reflections to choose the most effective note-taking strategy that fits their learning style and preferences

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